- Previews: Group A, Group B, Group C, Group D
- Diamondbacks at the WBC and former Diamondbacks at the WBC: part 1, part 2
China @ Japan on Day 3 (this morning) was the only game where there was no current or former Diamondback involved. It is almost a miracle the game didn’t end much worse than the final score of 8-1, with the Chinese pitching staff allowing 16 walks and the batting lineup striking out 17 times. The Japanese batters disappointed a bit, achieving a total of just 9 hits (4 from Ohtani and Nootbaar) and not taking advantage of 12 walks (!) until the 8th inning, when they were already up 4-1 and scored 4 more. Ohtani pitched 4 clean innings.
Eric Mendez (The Netherlands/Visalia Rawhide)
- Day 1, Cuba @ Netherlands 2-4: 1.1 IP (20 P - 11 S), 1 BB, 1 SO, 0 R.
- Day 2, Panama @ Netherlands 1-3: didn’t play.
23-year old Eric Mendez enjoyed a great start with The Netherlands. The WBC opening match between the two favourites in Group A tilted towards the Dutch as they beat Cuba 4-2 and take a big step toward the next round.
The Aruban got the win after pitching a clean 6th inning, starting with sitting down White Sox’ Luis Robert on 4 sliders. He was then rather wild and walked former star Yoenis Cespedes, but then got Lorenzo Quintana (Marlins AAA in 2022) and Yadir Drake (Dodgers AA in 2015) to fly out and ground out on sliders again. Before that, he also finished the 5th inning, getting White Sox’ Yoan Moncada to pop out after a flux of change ups, his pitch for left-handed batting.
Mendez touched 79-83 mph on his sliders and around 90 mph on his fastball.
Will Sherriff (Australia/Rookie league or Perth Heat)
- Day 2, Australia @ South Korea 8-7: 0.2 IP (20 P - 9 S), 1 BB, 0 R.
The first shocker in this WBC was once again for Korea. Just like in previous editions, the nerves got to the KBO players. Going into the bottom 8, Australia was actually leading 8-4 when Diamondbacks’ Will Sherriff entered the game for a hold. He achieved that, but it wasn’t as nice as you might believe.
Sherriff entered the inning with no outs and two batters already on base, as the previous pitcher walked two. Sherriff did the same, first loading the bases and then walking the first run in, on just 9 pitches total. A ground out brought the second inherited runner over the plate, and with a hit by pitch Sherriff would once again load the bases. After getting his second out, with another batter crossing the plate, Sherriff was taken off the mound with an 8-7 on the scoreboard and 2 outs. Australia escaped from further damage, although it was a nerve-wracking inning since the pitcher that followed Sherriff up loaded the bases as well with a walk but then got his opponent to strike out.
Sherriff will definitely have to work on his pitching. He threw just one fastball, barely touching 90 mph, and was terribly off with his changeup, his pitch for right-handed batters. Lefties saw his 69-70 mph curveball. Above all it looks like he escaped in this game.
I don’t really get the box score from this game though, as gameday clearly shows Sherriff walked two batters and I think 1 allowed run is his, but gameday apparently believes otherwise.
Dominic Fletcher, Mitchell Stumpo (Italy/Reno Aces)
- Day 3, Italy @ Cuba 6-3: Fletcher: 5 AB, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 RBI; Stumpo 1.0 IP (12 P - 10 S), 1 H, 0 BB, 0 SO, 1 R.
No Dominic Miroglio, but Dominic Fletcher was in the starting lineup for Italy in this match, playing right field and hitting 4th. The team representing Italy was involved in a pitching duel until the 6th inning and the Diamondbacks’ outfielder couldn’t break that up either. Italy eventually won, somewhat surprisingly, in extra innings and Fletcher, just like Italy, started somewhat anonymous but eventually contributed nicely with two hits, a walk and an RBI while also crossing home plate.
Mitchell Stumpo took the field in the bottom 10th and made quick work of his performance, needing just 12 pitches to get 3 batters out. He did give up a run though, the runner on second, on a base hit from White Sox’ Luis Robert. Before that Yoan Moncada had grounded out and after that got long-time NPB slugger Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial (also NPB) to fly out and clinch a 6-3 victory.
Stumpo threw a couple of 93+ mph four-seamers but mostly used his cutter, topping out at 89+ mph.
Former Diamondbacks’ performances
Didi Gregorius (The Netherlands)
- Day 1, Cuba @ Netherlands 2-4: 3 AB, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 RBI.
- Day 2, Panama @ Netherlands 1-3: 1 AB, 2 BB, 1 SO.
With a crowded infield, Gregorius played 1B for The Netherlands where he did fine. Gregorius had a walk, a hit, a run and an RBI and became therefore one of the more important contributors to the win over Cuba in the opening match of the WBC. He was also participant in a nice double play.
Within 24 hours Gregorius was back on the field for yet another decisive match. This time he couldn’t contribute that much as the batters behind him didn’t bat him in. The honours in this match went to Padre Xander Bogaerts, who was right in front of him in the batting lineup.
Randall Delgado and Humberto Mejía (Panama)
- Day 1, Panama @ Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) 12-5: Mejía: 2 IP (38 P - 21 S). 2H, 2 BB, 0 R; Delgado: 2.2 IP (44 P - 31 S), 5 H, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 R.
- Day 2, Panama @ Netherlands 1-3: didn’t play.
Panama got a huge win over Chinese Taipei (Taiwan). As expected, Taiwan is not as good as their current world ranking might make you think they are and they were no match for Panama that got their first win ever at the WBC: 12-5.
Humberto Mejía worked around 2 hits and 2 walks and went 2 innings to put up a 0 for Panama. Randall Delgado got the win for Panama, after going 2.2 innings. He gave up 5 hits during those innings, giving up 1 run, but also got 3 strikeouts and needed just 44 pitches for all that and the 13 batters he encountered at home plate.
In the 7th inning Taiwan evaded getting mercy ruled, so the game ultimately lasted more than 4 hours. That was good news for The Netherlands as Panama had to get back out there in less than 12 hours for the following match. Obviously Mejía and Delgado didn’t pitch in that one.
Ben DeLuzio (Italy)
- Day 3, Italy @ Cuba 6-3: 5 AB, 0 H, 0 BB.
Former Diamondback Ben DeLuzio played center field for Italy and couldn’t do much with the bat, with 3 outs and striking out in two other occasions. On the defensive side he made a fielding error in the 7th that allowed Arruabarrena reach 3B on a single, who would later cross home plate (2-1) to get Cuba back into the game.